‘Planetary Thinking’ on Japan and East Asia in the Midst of Change

Opening Remarks | 8 Sep 2017 | Hotel Jen | ‘Japan and East Asia in the Midst of Change: Carving a Path for the Region’ International Studies Conference

It is my great honor and pleasure to welcome you all to the conference. I’m on my first week as the new dean of DLSU’s College of Liberal Arts, with such big shoes to fill, coming after Dean Julio Teehankee who made great strides in strengthening liberal arts education and connecting DLSU to the world, as well as being a leading figure in De La Salle University’s international studies program and initiator, key inspirer, and mover of this conference. May I ask for a round of applause for Dean Teehankee?

The conference this year is very special because the International Studies Department of De La Salle University is celebrating its twenty-fifth (25th) foundation year. Twenty-five is still a young age and I am confident there will be better years ahead, of ripening, of fruition, of reaping the harvest of hard work, but being twenty-five now and enjoying success at the peak of youth is something else, definitely a grand reason to celebrate. Please accept my felicitations and congratulations.

To the Ateneo de Manila University’s Japanese Studies Program, thank you for co-organizing the conference, and thank you so much, Japan Foundation, for your annual support for the conference. We would not have come this far without you.

The conference call speaks of a world of change, that is, a world being changed rapidly in an age of globalization, to which ideas are invited to think through and think about these changes and their effects and what possibilities are open to solve problems, to move forward, to work together. May I extend my privilege a bit by giving my own brief response to this call.

Recently I have come across the idea of ‘planetary thinking’ in the work of a colleague in my field of performance studies. My sense is that this is something we can take on board as a discursive direction. 

(What follows are mainly references to Felipe Cervera’s article in Global Performance Studies, which can be accessed for free here: https://gps.psi-web.org/issue-1-1/gps-1-1-3/.)

Stanford Friedman describes the ‘planetary’ as a much better term than the ‘global’. While ‘transnational suggests the on-going tension between nation-states and globalized postnational political formations, [and] global invokes the endlessly debated pros and cons of contemporary globalization’, planetary[…] echoes the spatial turn in cultural theory of the twenty-first century. It is cosmic and grounded at the same time [….] [It] gestures at a world beyond the human, even beyond the Earth… Planetary suggests the Earth as a matter of matter and climate, life and the passage of time, and an array of species of which the human is only one [….] Planetary has an open-ended edge that transnational and global lack (Friedman 7-8 quoted in Cervera 2017). This thinking is an example of what has been called the planetary turn that positions ‘the planet’ as an alternative critical framework to ‘the globe’. As authors Elias and Muraru of the book The Planetary Turn aver, ‘While flat-out dismissal or wholesale demonization of globalization processes in economy, technology, and culture remains misguided, the planetary perforce builds on the global, critiques it, and, to some degree, “completes” it’.

More to the brief point I am making here, planetary thinking is relational thinking, as asserted by Gayatri Spivak. ‘The [planetary] attempts a move away from the totalizing paradigm of modern age globalization’ and ‘globalization’s homogenizing, one-becoming pulsion is challenged by relationality.’  In the words of my colleague Felipe Cervera, talking about planetary performance studies, the concept of planetarity can be a framework for ‘a comparative inquiry that benefits relational, circulatory, and co-creative histories’ and the planet can be thus be thought as ‘a matrix for multiple co-presence’.

In my own work I have spoken about and advocated for an acknowledgement of co-presence and co-performance (inspired by the work of Dwight Conquergood), which is both an assertion of equality among peoples, institutions, nations who relate to each other and an impulse towards discovering possibilities and mechanisms for working together. 

As this conference tackles the challenge of ‘carving a path for the region in the midst of change’ I hope first of all that there is a recognition of the multiple co-presences in the region and the need to work out solutions to problems from this basic ground. 

Good morning everyone, thank you all for coming, and have a great conference.

Works Cited:

Cervera, Felipe. “Planetary Performance Studies.” Global Performance Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2017, https://doi.org/10.33303/gpsv1n1a3.

Moraru, Christian, and Amy J. Elias, editors. The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the Twenty-First Century. Northwestern University Press, 2015.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Death of a Discipline. Columbia University Press, 2003.

Published by Jazmin Llana

Hello, I am Jazmin Llana. I work in higher education in the Philippines with arts and humanities as my subject area. Here you can find links to my published essays and current projects.

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